Agenda item

Winter Planning 2022/23


The Committee received a presentation by S Jacques Chief Executive of County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust (CDDFT) which provided members with information on Winter Planning (for copy see file of minutes).


The Chief Executive CDDFT advised that partners were working together to prepare for the winter. She noted the NHS were currently in a period of sustained demand and that public health projections suggest future challenges and stressed it was important that all the system worked well and worked together.  Members were informed that the Trust was currently at OPEL Level 4, the highest level of escalation.


The Chair commented it was positive to hear how well local authorities were working together to reduce pressures on services. She highlighted the articles that had appeared in the media recently regarding delayed discharges and that this was due to care packages not being in place on time. The Chief Executive CDDFT confirmed that the service was in the process of creating more community beds in Sedgefield and Chester-le-Street hospitals to ease some of the current pressures and their focus was to ensure hospitals continued to work together to alleviate the pressures. 


Councillor Martin echoed the concerns that the Chair had raised regarding delayed discharge and acknowledged how well the NHS had worked together since the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that failure of the NHS was closer than it had ever been previously and asked how likely the system was to fail and if there was a plan in place for this. The Chief Executive CDDFT explained that it was unlikely that all services would be in that situation at the same time but if failure did occur, she confirmed elective surgery would cease. She stressed that working together was key to suppress pressure and to minimise impact on services. She advised that there was an area of land at the University Hospital of North Durham that was currently being developed before the implementation of the new A&E department and that this was in addition to a large portacabin that was planned to come to Durham in Quarter four. She explained that the NHS were working strategically and had both short-term plans in place in addition to a longer-term strategy and vision and believed this put the service in a good place and equipped them for future events.


Councillor Martin observed that the Chief Executive CDDFT seemed reassured that the NHS would not collapse this winter. The Chief Executive CDDFT pointed out that if an unexpected event occurred like the COVID-19 pandemic then this could not be guaranteed but clarified that any impact would be on elective care.


M Laing, Director of Integrated Community Services assured the Committee that dynamic management was in place explaining that the hospital discharge team met with the relevant teams including social care at 8.30am each day. He explained that funding of £2.3m had been secured for County Durham and the ICS must report how the funding is to be spent. The Chair asked if the funding was enough to make a real difference. The Director of Integrated Community Services noted that although additional money was always welcome, that services working well together was more important and effective.


Councillor Quinn reassured the Committee that there was a wide range of care available for patients once discharged from hospital and included the care connect service. She also advised that if a patient was admitted to a nursing home that this was not always their permanent residence, as the prime objective was to build patients confidence so that they could return to their home when well enough to do so.


In response to a question from Councillor Howey expressing concerns regarding large hospitals, the Chief Executive CDDFT explained the benefits of the larger hospitals noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, main acute sites were available for patients to be assessed and the sites allowed multiple professionals to be present. She noted hospitals within County Durham coped better during the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to other areas.


Councillor Howey gave an example of patients who had to request multiple referrals through their GPs to see the same professional as seen previously. She expressed her frustration with the referral process and asked whether this generated any money. The Chief Executive CDDFT clarified that staff were on block contracts and therefore no money could be generated from the referral process.


Councillor Earley noted that although funding had been secured this year, it may not be received in future years and asked if Members could do anything to support this. The Director of Integrated Community Services advised that at a cabinet level, it was essential to support working together on integration and to recognise good practice and reminded the Committee that a large amount of work was currently taking place within individuals own homes. At a national level, he emphasised the importance of providing feedback to demonstrate how the funding had been used and to showcase good practice.  The Chief Executive CDDFT stressed it was vital that a strong case be made for County Durham.


Co-opted member A Stobbart asked if the NHS were doing enough work around prevention of road traffic accidents. The Chief Executive CDDFT confirmed that procedures were in place to protect public highways and paths to keep people safe. She noted that County Durham was proactive with regards to digital messages on roads which was key to encourage road users to drive carefully. She explained that although road traffic accidents had increased recently, the data was proportionate to the number of vehicles on the road, pointing out that less vehicles were on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic. With regards to adverse weather, the Chief Executive CDDFT advised that a lot was learned from Storm Arwen and the difficulties this presented to individuals and explained that the winter plan included advice on how residents could equip themselves in their own homes.




That the presentation be noted. 


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